In a multicentre, genome-wide association study to identify host genetic factors associated with treatment response in adult chronic hepatitis B patients, genotype data were obtained by microarray analysis from 1669 patients who received peginterferon alfa-2a for ≥ 24 weeks with/without a nucleos(t)ide analog. Treatment response was assessed at least 24 weeks post-treatment, using serological and/or virological endpoints. Thirty-six single-marker analyses and a gene-by-gene analysis were conducted. No single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) achieved genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10-8 ) in single-marker analyses, but suggestive associations (P < 1 × 10-5 ) were identified for 116 SNPs. In gene-by-gene analyses, one gene, FCER1A (rs7549785), reached genome-wide significance (P = 2.65 × 10-8 ) in East Asian patients for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) clearance, with a moderate effect size (odds ratio = 4.74). Eleven of 44 carriers (25%) of the A allele at rs7549785 achieved HBsAg clearance compared with 69/1051 (7%) noncarriers. FCER1A encodes the alpha subunit of the immunoglobulin E receptor. In a post hoc analysis of a homogenous patient subset, the strongest intragenic association was for rs7712322 (POLR3G, P = 7.21 × 10-7 ). POLR3G encodes the G subunit of the polymerase (RNA) III enzyme, involved in sensing and limiting infection by intracellular bacteria and DNA viruses, and as a DNA sensor in innate immune responses. FCER1A (rs7549785) and possibly POLR3G (rs7712322) are shown to be associated with peginterferon alfa-2a response in adult patients with chronic hepatitis B. Independent confirmation of these findings is warranted (clinicaltrials.gov number NCT01855997).
Keywords: chronic hepatitis B; genetic variation; peginterferon alfa-2a; response.
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.